Another day, another NHS disaster

January 12, 2013

The future of American health care is the UK’s present:

The largest and most detailed survey into hospital deaths has revealed that almost 12,000 patients are needlessly dying every year as a result of poor patient care.

The researchers from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine based the study on 1,000 deaths at 10 NHS trusts during 2009. The study revealed that basic errors were made in more than one in 10 cases, leading to 5.2% of deaths, which was the equivalent of nearly 12,000 preventable deaths in hospitals in England every year.

Iowahawk puts these numbers into perspective:

A Briton is 5 times more likely to die from government health care than an American is to die from a gunshot.

Tenet (Mostly) Explained

April 10, 2021

Christopher Nolan’s new film, Tenet, is my favorite film of the last decade. I don’t think it’s Nolan’s best film. But it’s hard to beat Tenet in terms of sheer fun and rewatchability. More than any movie I can think of, Tenet rewards multiple viewings. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it, and I’m still noticing new things.

What follows is my exposition of the Tenet storyline, what happened and why, and what I think it means. This is directed toward people who found the movie confusing, want an explanation, and (for whatever reason) aren’t inclined to work it out themselves. It’s also directed toward other Tenet fanboys, to compare notes. But mainly it’s because I enjoyed working all this out and I wanted to share what I learned.

Obviously, here there be spoilers. I assume you’ve seen the movie at least once, so I won’t bother explaining who the characters are.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rationing kills

September 11, 2014

Yes, Virginia, health care rationing does kill people:

A Herceptin-style drug that can offer some women with advanced breast cancer nearly six months of extra life has been turned down for use in the NHS because of its high cost.

In draft guidance now open to consultation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) blames the manufacturers, Roche, who are asking for more than £90,000 per patient, which is far more than any comparable treatment.

In a free country, you would decide for yourself whether 6 months of life would be worth the cost. Or at least you would decide whether health insurance that covers 6 extra months of life would be worth the cost. Not in the UK. In the UK they tax away nearly half your income, promising to provide you health care, and then they don’t do it.

Sure, you can still pay for it yourself (in the UK — this is actually illegal in Canada), but they’ve already taken half your money, and you still need food, shelter, etc.

The horror of government-run medicine

September 2, 2014

The horrifying story of two parents fighting against the United Kingdom to obtain treatment for their cancer-striken child:

  1. Doctors successfully remove the boy’s tumor.
  2. To prevent cancer returning, the parents seek proton-beam treatment in place of ordinary radiation treatments.
  3. Doctors refuse.
  4. The parents suggest that they could pay for the treatment themselves.
  5. Doctors say no: you have to accept our recommendation, or else.
  6. Or else what? The doctors threaten that if the parents keep demanding treatment, they will impose a restraining order that will bar the parents from seeing their son.
  7. The parents check the child out of the hospital and leave the country.
  8. Story over? Oh no. The NHS contacts Interpol and issues an international missing person notice to find the boy.
  9. Staff at a Spanish hotel (where the parents are staying while they raise money for treatment) report them to the police.
  10. Spanish police arrest the parents, and extradite them back to the UK.
  11. After a flurry of bad press, the Prime Minister intervenes. The parents will not be prosecuted.
  12. The boy doesn’t get the treatment, but the parents aren’t barred from seeing the boy.

This is what passes for a happy ending when dealing with the NHS: Your boy doesn’t get treatment, but at least you don’t get punished for trying.

For its part, the police “make no apology” for their actions. And why would they? They’re the government.

This is why government-run health care is so much worse even than a cheap, badly-run HMO. With an HMO, you can fight for treatment. You might fail, but at least you can’t be punished for trying. With the NHS, the people who pass judgement on your care are the same ones who, if you annoy them, can take your children away.

Labor government covered up unsanitary hospital

October 9, 2013

Ah, the beauty of socialized medicine. When the government runs health care, health care failures become political problems to be covered up:

Internal emails from the Care Quality Commission show that Labour tried to stop the watchdog from informing the public about failings at Basildon University Hospital, where patients were dying needlessly on filthy wards.

The dossier of emails, released under Freedom of Information, state that Andy Burnham, the then Health Secretary, was “furious” when “graphic details” of the care failings became public. Separate emails suggest that Mike O’Brien, the former Labour minister of state for health, told the NHS watchdog that “anything you do is political” in the run up to the General Election.

Executives at the watchdog decided that “given the political environment” a report into standards of care across the country should be “largely positive”.

So the purpose of the healthcare “watchdog” is to protect the government by hiding its failures. Good to know.

The lion’s share of the blame here belongs to the old Labor government, which actually committed this atrocity, of course. But we should also recognize that the structure of the system makes this malfeasance likely. Government-run health care inevitably is politicized health care.

That’s our future, now. And it won’t take as long here.

(Via Power Line.)

Government-run health care

July 12, 2013

A glimpse of our future, in the UK today:

As many as 1,165 people starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years fuelling claims nurses are too busy to feed their patients. . .

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics following a Freedom of Information request, for every patient who dies from malnutrition, four more have dehydration mentioned on their death certificate.

Absolutely appalling. And Democrats are determined to bring it here.

Government-run health care

December 28, 2012

The worst thing about the routine cruelty that so often seems to characterize the British NHS aren’t the outrages. The worst thing is how NHS outrages hardly even seem remarkable any more. In the latest set of outrages:

Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is writing to 38 families after a massive legal action that exposed years of bad practice, ranging from nurses taunting patients to leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks. In one of the worst cases, a man had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months. . .

The move will serve to intensify debate on why some nurses and doctors are treating patients without compassion, and will add weight to the warning by [Health Secretary] Mr Hunt that patients can experience “coldness, resentment, indifference” and “even contempt” in NHS hospitals. He warned that in the worst institutions, a “normalisation of cruelty” had been fostered. . .

The catalogue of failings uncovered by the mass legal action is one of the worst ever exposed at an NHS hospital. It included:
• A former nurse whose son told how she died after being left unwashed for 11 weeks, and was put on medication so powerful that she could not speak;
• A 35-year-old father-of-four whose family told how he wasted away because staff did not know how to fit a feeding tube;
• A pensioner who was left screaming in pain when his ribs were broken during a botched attempt to hoist him;
• A man who could not feed himself whose daughter described how he was taunted by nurses who took away his food uneaten;
• A great-grandmother left permanently unable to walk after doctors failed to detect a hip fracture.

Particularly worthy of note, I think, is the case where nurses put food out of the patient’s reach and then taunted him.

(Via Power Line.)

Death panels

December 10, 2012

More horrifying stories of government-run health care from the British NHS, where sick children are being put to death to save money:

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an independent inquiry ordered by ministers.

Medical critics of the LCP insist it is impossible to say when a patient will die and as a result the LCP death becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They say it is a form of euthanasia, used to clear hospital beds and save the NHS money.

We’re told, over and over again, that these are isolated incidents. With the sheer volume of these incidents, it is clear the NHS has (or, more properly, is) a systemic problem. In each “isolated incident”, the medical staff (I won’t call them doctors) are responding to the incentives they are given. Perhaps they weren’t supposed to respond by killing or abusing their patients, but that’s what keeps happening.

And that’s what’s going to happen here, too. The difference is, here, under Obamacare, the thin veneer of private control will make it easier for the advocates of nationalized health care to blame someone else.

(Via International Liberty.)

Government-run health care

October 29, 2012

This somehow got left out of the Olympics’ paean to the National Health Service:

A 29-year-old woman will die without a new drug that the NHS is refusing to provide despite the manufacturer offering it to her for free, it emerged today. Caroline Cassin, 29, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has been offered a new drug free of charge for a limited period by the makers but her NHS hospital is refusing.

The drug, effectively allows sufferers to lead a normal life, and has been available in America since January, and is successfully trialled and licenced in this country. However it has not yet been approved for use on the NHS and an expert specialist group is due to make recommendations to health service funding organisations by December.

Procedures take precedence over people’s lives. That’s government-run health care in a nutshell. And that’s what Obamacare is bringing to this country.

(Via Instapundit.)

War on women

August 31, 2012

The latest in the annals of government-run health care:

Family doctors are being told to try to talk women out of having Caesareans and very strong painkillers during birth to save the NHS money. New guidelines drawn up for GPs urge them to encourage women to have natural labours with as little medical help as possible.

But don’t worry, I’m sure that it could never happen here.

(Via Instapundit.)

National health care

August 6, 2012

If you catch a cold, the British NHS will give you good treatment for free. If you have a serious health problem, you don’t want the NHS. A frightening look at our future under Obamacare.

How to get to tyranny

May 7, 2012

Step 1: Make nearly everyone dependent on the government for a basic necessity like health care. Step 2: Deny that necessity to people to don’t comply with the government’s demands.

With Obamacare, we’re setting out on step 1, but the UK is well ahead of us. They have finished step 1 and are setting out on step 2:

A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS’s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”.

Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking. Some medics believe unhealthy behaviour can make procedures less likely to work, and that the service is not obliged to devote scarce resources to them. . .

Smokers and obese people are already being denied operations such as IVF, breast reconstructions and a new hip or knee in some parts of England. The medical magazine Pulse last month found that 25 of 91 primary care trusts (PCTs) had introduced treatment bans for those groups since April 2011.

Bedfordshire PCT, for example, decided to withhold hip and knee surgery from obese patients until they had slimmed down by 10% or had a body mass index of under 35. Similarly, North Essex PCT obliged obese people to lose 5% of their bodyweight and keep the pounds shed for at least six months before receiving treatment.

The way to prevent this is to put individuals in charge of their health care, which is exactly the opposite of Obamacare.

(Via Instapundit.)

Death panel

April 8, 2012

In a new atrocity from the horror show that is the British NHS, a British man is denied medical care because he is too old:

When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat. Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

The NHS sentenced this man to death, and wouldn’t even treat his suffering. Universal coverage does not mean universal access.

But don’t worry, nothing like that could ever happen here. . .

POSTSCRIPT: The story actually has a happy ending, but it’s one that makes the NHS’s judgement even worse. After the man was denied care by the socialized medicine system, she man’s daughter paid to send him to a private doctor:

Thanks to her tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team.

So the NHS wanted to leave this man to die who actually could be saved. Lesson: if you want to get better, you need to be in charge of your medical care, not the government.

Unfortunately, not many people can afford to do what the man’s daughter did. When you’re already paying for “universal” medical care, most people can’t afford to pay a second time for private care. Moreover, under the Canadian system (which Democrats want to enact here), it’s not even allowed.

Government-run health care

March 26, 2012

The UK has 14,000 avoidable cancer deaths each year because of age discrimination by the National Health Service. But don’t worry, nothing like that could ever happen here.

(Via Power Line.)

A glimpse of our future

December 19, 2011

More horrors from the British NHS, the model for national health care.

Death panels

December 5, 2011

More euthanasia at the British NHS, the model for nationalized health care that Democrats would like to see established in the United States:

Tens of thousands of patients with terminal illnesses are being placed on a “death pathway”, almost double the number just two years ago, a study published today shows.

Health service guidance states that doctors should discuss with relations whether or not their loved one is placed on the scheme which allows medical staff to withdraw fluid and drugs in a patient’s final days. In many cases this is not happening, an audit has found. As many as 2,500 families were not told that their loved ones had been put on the so-called Liverpool Care Pathway, the study disclosed. In one hospital trust, doctors had conversations with fewer than half of families about the care of their loved one.

And just to be clear, these aren’t necessarily patients who will pass away without a little push:

In addition to the withdrawal of fluid and medication, patients can be placed on sedation until they pass away. This can mean they are not fed and provided with water and has led to accusations that it hastens death. . .

Concerns about the pathway were raised first in The Daily Telegraph in 2009 when experts warned that in some cases patients have been put on the pathway only to recover when their families intervened, leading to questions over how people are judged to be in their “last hours and days”.

The title is irresistible, but it’s actually overly glib to call these death panels. With an actual “death panel”, there would be a panel that would issue a ruling openly. One could protest and possibly appeal. Here there’s no panel; just medical bureaucrats who decide in secret that some patients should be put to death.

And this is not an isolated incident. Two months ago the NHS was caught issuing do-not-resuscitate orders without permission. Worse than that, the government had uncovered the practice first, and hushed it up.

This is our future, if the Democrats have their way.

(Via Power Line.)

Health care rationing in America

January 4, 2011

A glimpse of our future:

Norman Ornstein had a piece in the Washington Post railing against “death panels” in Indiana and Arizona, both of which involved Medicaid budget limits. He omitted the death panel in Oregon — perhaps because it is a liberal state? — which has explicitly rationed care under Medicaid since being allowed to conduct rationing under the Clinton administration. In Oregon, Medicaid has a list of over 700 procedures, and will cover only the number permitted by their budget, usually in the low- to mid-600s. All those procedures on the wrong side of the line are not paid for by Medicaid.

The point of Oregon’s experiment was to expand coverage at the expense of cutting off the sickest people. . .

What is the common thread that connects the death panels in these three states? Medicaid is a single-payer system in which budgets are limited. When the money runs out, people’s options shrink. See also, the U.K.’s NHS and, increasingly, Canada’s national health-care system, in which life-extending chemotherapy has also been restricted in some places.

Socialized medicine

December 9, 2010

Britain’s NHS is reaching the “breaking point”, according to a study by the UK Royal Colleges of Physicians. (Via the Corner.)

That’s the system that Medicare and Medicaid should be modeled after, according to the man who runs Medicare and Medicaid.

Government-run medicine

April 13, 2010

The UK’s National Health Service will allow Muslim doctors and nurses to opt out of hygiene rules:

Female staff who follow the Islamic faith will be allowed to cover their arms to preserve their modesty despite earlier guidance that all staff should be “bare below the elbow”.

The Department of Health has also relaxed rules prohibiting jewellery so that Sikh members of staff can wear bangles linked with their faith, providing they are pushed up the arm while the medic treats a patient.

The Mail on Sunday reported the change had been made after female Muslims objected to being required to expose their arm below the elbow under guidance introduced by Alan Johnson when he was health secretary in 2007.

The rules were drawn up to reduce the number of patients who were falling ill, and even dying, from superbugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

When government runs medicine, proper medical practice is just one consideration, and not even the primary one. That’s our future.

(Via Power Line.)

Government-run health care

March 27, 2010

A glimpse of our future:

Tens of thousands of NHS workers would be sacked, hospital units closed and patients denied treatments under secret plans for £20 billion of health cuts.

The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries, while procedures such as hip replacements could be scrapped.
The plans have emerged as health chiefs draw up emergency budgets that cast doubt on pledges by Gordon Brown to protect “front line services” in the NHS.

Documents show that health chiefs are considering plans to begin sacking workers, cutting treatments and shutting wards across the country. The proposals could lead to:

  • 10 per cent of NHS staff being sacked in some areas.
  • The loss of thousands of hospital beds.
  • A reduction in the number of ambulance call-outs.
  • Medical professionals being replaced by less qualified assistants.

The final details of the plans are not due to be announced until the autumn, well after the country has gone to the polls for the general election.

Moral hazard and government mismanagement lead to soaring costs. Soaring taxes and reduced expenditures in other areas (including the legitimate functions of government) follow. Ultimately, when we reach the limit of what can be extracted from the taxpayers, and other areas cannot be cut further, we’ll see this. The only way to prevent this is to reverse course.

(Via Instapundit.)

Government-run health care

March 8, 2010

The Daily Mail reports:

A man of 22 died in agony of dehydration after three days in a leading teaching hospital.

Kane Gorny was so desperate for a drink that he rang police to beg for their help. They arrived on the ward only to be told by doctors that everything was under control. The next day his mother Rita Cronin found him delirious and he died within hours. . .

His 50-year-old mother says that he needed to take drugs three times a day to regulate his hormones. Doctors had told him that without the drugs he would die. Although he had stressed to staff how important his medication was, she said, no one gave him the drugs.

She said that two days after his hip operation, while Miss Cronin was at work, he became severely dehydrated but his requests for water were refused. He became aggressive and nurses called in security guards to restrain him. . .

The tragedy emerged a week after a report into hundreds of deaths at Stafford Hospital revealed the appalling quality of care given by many of the nurses.

It’s a horrifying story, but what’s more horrifying is how often we hear such stories out of the UK.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: In fact, here’s another:

Ministers dismissed a warning in 2003 by the UK’s most senior heart surgeon that half of Britain’s units should be closed. As President of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgeons (SCTS) of Great Britain and Ireland, Prof James Monro was commissioned by ministers to propose changes following the Bristol inquiry, yet “the Government did absolutely nothing” about his key demand, he told The Sunday Telegraph.

Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the health service, told NHS bosses two years ago that he feared “another Bristol” tragedy because specialists were so thinly spread. . .

Britain’s leading children’s heart charity says Labour ministers “ran scared” from introducing an overhaul of the specialist system which could have saved lives, and prevented major disabilities.

(Via Power Line.)

Government-run health care

February 25, 2010

The London Times reports:

Patients were routinely neglected or left “sobbing and humiliated” by staff at an NHS trust where at least 400 deaths have been linked to appalling care.

An independent inquiry found that managers at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust stopped providing safe care because they were preoccupied with government targets and cutting costs. . .

Staff shortages at Stafford Hospital meant that patients went unwashed for weeks, were left without food or drink and were even unable to get to the lavatory. Some lay in soiled sheets that relatives had to take home to wash, others developed infections or had falls, occasionally fatal. Many staff did their best but the attitude of some nurses “left a lot to be desired”.

The report, which follows reviews by the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health, said that “unimaginable” suffering had been caused. Regulators said last year that between 400 and 1,200 more patients than expected may have died at the hospital from 2005 to 2008.

(Emphasis mine.)

Under the methodology underlying the Democratic health care plan, this place would look great because it spends less per fatality.

(Via Power Line.)

British death panels

September 3, 2009

The Telegraph reports:

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS. . .

[Dr Hargreaves] added that some patients were being “wrongly” put on the pathway, which created a “self-fulfilling prophecy” that they would die.

(Via Power Line.)

Socialized medicine

October 20, 2008

In Britain, doctors are being paid not to refer patients for treatment:

Dozens of incentive schemes have been uncovered which allow GPs to profit by slashing the number of patients they refer for hospital care.

Under one scheme, GPs stand to gain £59 for every patient not referred to hospital, if they cut an average referral rate by between two and eight per cent.

Torbay care trust in Devon will pay up to £15,000 to the average-sized GP practice if it hits a swathe of targets, including reducing hospital referrals.

NHS managers say referral rates, which rose 16 per cent nationwide during the first quarter of this year, have to be cut to save money. They claim many patients can receive equally good care from community NHS staff, such as physiotherapists and nurses.

But critics fear that patients could suffer if GPs’ decisions are swayed by the prospect of a cash bonus.

And yes, this cost-cutting measure is hurting people:

A leading surgeon said that patients’ cancers had already gone undiagnosed after they were denied specialist care under two such “referral management” schemes.

Orthopaedic surgeon Stephen Cannon, former president of the British Orthopaedic Association and a consultant surgeon at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, described the cases as an “absolutely terrible” warning that decisions by non-specialist doctors could have devastating consequences.

He said: “I recently encountered two cases in which patients referred to physiotherapists later turned out to have a malignant tumour. If they had been sent to a consultant the outcome may have been very different.

If this policy hasn’t killed anyone yet, it’s only a matter of time.

This, of course, is the model of “health care” that Democrats want to see imposed in the United States.

(Via Instapundit.)

The most chilling story of the day

September 23, 2008

The Telegraph reports:

Baroness Warnock: Dementia sufferers may have a ‘duty to die’

Elderly people suffering from dementia should consider ending their lives because they are a burden on the NHS and their families, according to the influential medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock.

The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are “wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves.

Her comments in a magazine interview have been condemned as “immoral” and “barbaric”, but also sparked fears that they may find wider support because of her influence on ethical matters.

Lady Warnock, a former headmistress who went on to become Britain’s leading moral philosopher, chaired a landmark Government committee in the 1980s that established the law on fertility treatment and embryo research.

Thought #1: Pro-lifers warning of the day when the elderly are put down against their will have been dismissed as alarmists.  I don’t think they can be dismissed any more.

Thought #2: Isn’t it appropriate for the UK to reconsider their law, given that its “leading moral philosopher” who brought about the law turned out to be evil?

(Via the Corner.)

Canadian doctors select patients by lottery

August 7, 2008

The glory of socialized medicine:

In the latest jarring illustration of the country’s doctor shortage, a family physician in Northern Ontario has used a lottery to determine which patients would be ejected from his overloaded practice.

Dr. Ken Runciman says he reluctantly eliminated about 100 patients in two separate draws to avoid having to provide assembly-line service or extend already onerous work hours, and admits the move has divided the community of Powassan.

Yet it was not the first time such methods have been employed to determine medical service. A new family practice in Newfoundland held a lottery last month to pick its caseload from among thousands of applicants. An Edmonton doctor selected names randomly earlier this year to pare 500 people from his heavy caseload. And in Ontario, regulators have heard reports of a number of other physicians also using draws to choose, or remove, patients. . .

The unusual practice seems to be a symptom of the times, said Jill Hefley, spokeswoman for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. A paucity of medical professionals has left an estimated five million Canadians without a family doctor.

UPDATE: More glorious socialized medicine in Britain:

The cleanliness of most NHS hospitals in England is threatened by frequent invasions of rats, fleas, bedbugs, flies and cockroaches, a report claims.

Figures released by the Conservatives show that 70% of NHS Trusts brought in pest controllers at least 50 times between January 2006 and March 2008.

Vermin were found in wards, clinics and even operating theatres. A patients’ group said the situation was revolting.

(Via Instapundit.)